It’s tough to believe, but the conclusion of Wednesday’s card will mark the halfway point of the 2020 Saratoga meet. It’s been a different summer, for a variety of different reasons. We’ve seen awe-inspiring efforts from the likes of Tiz the Law, Gamine, and Serengeti Empress, but they’ve come in races that usually happen near the end of the meet and act as a crescendo to weeks of rising action.
Fittingly, there will be different questions to answer between now and Labor Day. Which riders will leave Saratoga early to head to Churchill Downs? What horses will line up in the remaining Grade 1 races? Will I hang on to my lead in the pick box and win a fifth title in seven summers?
We’ve seen plenty of fireworks to this point. I hope there are more still to come.
SUNDAY’S RESULTS: Timely Tradition had an all-time nightmare trip in Sunday’s sixth. He still gave me a thrill with a big move around the turn, but thanks to all of his trouble, he could only manage a fourth-place finish. I dropped $30, but I hope that one runs back later in the meet.
WEDNESDAY’S PLAY: I like the late Pick Four sequence, and the card ends early enough to where I can play it without putting my editor’s deadline in jeopardy. My 50-cent ticket starts in the seventh and reads as follows: 2,4,7,10,12 with 2,7 with 2,4 with 4,6,10.
TOTAL WAGERED: $30
Best Bet: Maker entry, Race 5
Longshot: Love Me Tomorrow, Race 10
Zoom Zoom Zoe
#7 FEARSOME: Goes back to the steeplechase ranks after chasing some pretty good turf horses in the Grade 3 Louisville. That was his first start in six month, and his lone start over fences was a nice win in a $50,000 stakes race; #3 ZOOM ZOOM ZOE: Won her debut from way back, which isn’t an easy thing to do. She tries winners for the first time and doesn’t catch an easy field, but she’s in the most capable of hands running for Jonathan Sheppard; #5 BRIANBAKESCOOKIES: Has won just once in six starts since going to the hurdles, but he’s only finished worse than third once during that stretch. Jack Fisher has had a strong meet, and this one’s usual race gives him a shot in a wide-open event.
Tiz He the One
#1 TIZ HE THE ONE: Was claimed last time out by Mike Maker, who does exceptional work with high-level claimers. He was 9/2 against Firenze Fire in a Grade 3 two back at Laurel, and he has back races that would beat these comfortably; #5 STRIKE THAT: Has three wins and three seconds in six starts and goes second off the layoff for Robertino Diodoro. Oddly, the barn is 0-for-16 at the meet as of this writing, but he’s got a big shot to get his trainer off the duck; #3 RELEASETHETHUNDER: Beat a weaker group earlier in the meet and makes his first start for new trainer Ray Handal. I’m not sure he’ll want the extra furlong he gets here, but this is another consistent runner with some stakes credentials.
Money in the Bank
#7 MONEY IN THE BANK: Goes second off a long layoff and was a good second against similar company downstate. He’s run well going short on turf a few times now, and a step forward would allow him to climb the ladder and grab the briefcase here; #4 DARING DISGUISE: Ran second at less than even-money last time out to drop to 0-for-12, but there’s a reason he takes money. From a figure standpoint, he more than fits here, and this barn is having great success here this summer; #6 SHANDIAN: Is 0-for-14 but drops back in for a tag after a failed try against better earlier in the meet. His effort three back for this tag at Belmont was fine, and he did run fairly well in two tries at this route a season ago.
#7 RADIANTRITHYM: Hasn’t won in more than a year but was claimed by Linda Rice last time out, and she’s excellent with new acquisitions. This seems like a weaker group than what she’s been facing, and the outside post may give Jose Ortiz plenty of options; #6 TIED UP: Is a proverbial win machine with 11 triumphs in 22 career starts. She certainly seems like the controlling speed and she’ll likely be the one to catch, but the 0-for-3 local mark is a concern; #2 FAIR LASSIE: Drops way down in class to run for the lowest tag of her career. She lost all chance at the break last time out, and a cleaner start may put her in position to grab a piece of this.
MAKER ENTRY: I prefer #1A FREEDOM FORCE, who comes back to the lawn and turned in a strong five-furlong work a few days ago. His lone turf race to date was a very strong one for the level, as he ran fourth behind three next-out winners at Gulfstream; #3 DIGITAL SOFTWARE: Burned a lot of money when fourth at 3/5 at Keeneland. His debut at Churchill was solid, and perhaps the last-out effort was a bounce, but there don’t seem to be any excuses for that performance and I can’t endorse him at his likely price; #2 BREAK BEAT: Was fourth in his debut, but he’s bred to get better with experience and longer distances. His 344 turf Tomlinson rating is excellent, and the recent turf work indicates he’s set to take a step forward at second asking.
#7 ELOQUENT SPEAKER: Cuts back to a sprint after running third going two turns early in the meet. Her win two back at Belmont was strong, and it helps that that day’s runner-up has since come back to win twice in a row; #6 KINKY SOX: Has taken a step forward as a 6-year-old with two wins in her last three starts. She rallied to top a weaker group last time out, and the faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be; #1 SHESASUPERFREAK: Was a decent third at this level and route earlier in the meet. She hasn’t won in a while, but her last-out Beyer Speed Figure of 66 is the second-highest such number in this field.
Quick Return (MTO)
Sandro the Great
#7 SCUTTLEBUZZ: Comes back to the turf after running fourth in an off-the-turf race last month. His lone turf start was the best race of his career and he’s bred to love the one-mile route (by The Factor, out of an Elusive Quality mare); #12 SANDRO THE GREAT: Ran second in that off-the-turf race and looms large despite a terrible post. He’s bred to be very good and he’s in arguably the hottest barn on the grounds, but the post and cutback in distance are legitimate concerns; #2 TACKLE: Hammered for $250,000 two summers ago and comes in off a bullet workout for Bill Mott ahead of his debut. He’s a half-brother to eight different winners, including Grade 2 winner Recapturetheglory, and it wouldn’t be shocking if he ran well at a price.
Forza Di Oro
#7 CANDY TYCOON: Was my top pick in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, when he blew the break and never had a chance against the likes of Country Grammer and Caracaro. These waters are far shallower, and with a clean break, I think he has a big chance to bounce back; #2 FORZA DI ORO: Hasn’t run since December but has been working very well for Bill Mott. He showed talent as a 2-year-old and was 5-1 in the Grade 2 Remsen. If he lives up to his potential, he could develop into a horse of considerable talent; #4 LIL COMMISSIONER: Has won four of his last six starts and cruised against a weaker group in his first start for Rob Atras downstate. Two turns is a question mark, but he scratched out of a lower-level spot to run here, which can be interpreted as a sign of confidence.
#4 THOUGHTFULLY: Did everything right in her debut, when she romped by nearly nine lengths at Churchill Downs. Her work tab here has been very solid, and she’s another strong 2-year-old prospect for a barn with plenty of them; #2 MAKE MISCHIEF: Was second in the Grade 3 Schuylerville on Opening Day and seems like the main speed in this race. Mark Casse’s yet to win a race at the meet, but this daughter of Into Mischief obviously has plenty of potential; #5 LUCIFERS LAIR: Graduated at first asking earlier in the meet for Todd Pletcher, whose 2-year-olds always merit respect. The turnaround is a bit quick by the barn’s standards, and the one work since is a red flag, but dismiss this barn at your own peril.
Love Me Tomorrow
#10 LOVE ME TOMORROW: Has had several chances but will get one more shot from me here given the likely race shape. She sure looks like the main speed in this race, which is filled with a number of horses that may not want to pass others, and I love the outside draw; #6 DEEPLY ANALYTICAL: Stopped pretty badly when seventh of 10 as a 3/2 favorite in her lone start to date. She hasn’t been seen since, takes a big drop in class for Jorge Abreu, and is as tricky a read as any horse on the entire card; #4 MEBS WEB: Showed improvement when third against similar company earlier in the meet. She should be more fit second off the bench, and while Eric Cancel hasn’t visited the winner’s circle much, his in-the-money rate is strong and he gives the horses he rides chances to get home first.